110619_PNN_Dallas_Election_Appeal

The Paulding County Election Board voted to disqualify Dallas mayoral candidate Narda Konchel on Sept. 11 after saying it could not prove she had been a city resident for the required time.

Narda Konchel's effort to end the Dallas mayor’s election and force a new one effectively ended Thursday, Oct. 24, after the Georgia Supreme Court denied her appeal of her candidacy’s disqualification.

Supreme Court justices -- without comment -- ordered the denial of Konchel’s appeal of the Paulding County Board of Elections’ Sept. 11 decision to disqualify her based on her not meeting the Dallas city charter’s one-year residency requirement to hold the office.

The Thursday order stated the justices unanimously decided not to hear the appeal, which could have led to the current election results being thrown out and a special election ordered.

“Upon consideration of the application for Discretionary Appeal, it is ordered that it be hereby denied,” the order stated. “The applicant’s motion to stay the election or to order the applicant’s name to be placed on the ballot is denied as moot.”

The elections board’s Sept. 11 vote to disqualify Konchel came after a hearing on incumbent Mayor Boyd Austin’s challenge of her candidacy.

Board members said Konchel was unable to prove she had lived in the city for one year before qualifying as a candidate despite her claims she lived in a renovated part of a commercial building in downtown Dallas for the required time.

Konchel, a Dallas businesswoman, appealed the decision to Paulding Superior Court and a judge upheld the decision based on state law only allowing the court to determine if the board conducted the hearing lawfully.

She later appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court and alleged the election board conducted its hearing in such unlawful ways as forcing her to meet a standard of proof of her residency used in criminal cases rather than civil cases.

Brandon Bowen, attorney for the Paulding County Board of Elections, said he believed justices denied the appeal “because we showed that the Board of Elections considered Mr. Austin’s complaint appropriately.”

He said justices likely also denied it because the Superior Court already had “reviewed and affirmed” the elections board’s decision.

Konchel’s attorney, Mason Rountree, said she “argued that there were significant irregularities at the original hearing before the Board of Elections,” including forcing her to meet a higher burden of proof than should be allowed.

“The board’s primary argument to the court was that Ms. Konchel did not object to the errors at the hearing and therefore waived them, not that the errors did not occur,” Rountree said. “It appears that the court accepted this argument.”

“Regardless of the outcome, I believe that Narda’s courage in challenging the irregularities will cause the (elections) board to change the way in which it handles such hearings in the future. And that is good for the city of Dallas and Paulding County.”

The case number was S20D0329, Konchel v. Paulding County Board of Elections and Registration.

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